Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"The Stalk"
Written by Rick Merkel aka, sakomag here at

It was Oct. 3, 2001, the last day of my Wyoming hunting trip. The weather had been really warm in the afternoons and it was very dry. Several times I was in areas trying to walk quietly, but it was just about impossible. I kept thinking it sounded like I was walking on Lays potato chips.
Three days earlier I missed a really good buck that managed to slip through our best plan, and I thought that was going to be my only chance. However, early on the last morning, I had glassed a good-looking basin where I spotted 2 small bucks and a dozen doe's. That spotting produced quickly, so I decide to move on and check the next basin before it got too late in the morning.
As I reached the high ridge I sat down and began glassing. After 30 minutes of glassing and not a deer in sight, I figured "that's it", so I picked up my pack and began my walk out. I had only gone about 50 feet when I decided that I had better give the basin one more look.
I began glassing what I thought was the best looking spot, and to my surprise, a deer came into view. I was amazed, I couldn't figure out where that deer came from?

Big Bucks in steep country
Here is a diagram of the route Rick took while stalking his buck. As you can see,the country is very steep.
Through my 8x32 Swarovskis, I could see his rack. Even at 800 plus yards he looked good, so I waited until he bedded down, then planned my stalk.

I decide to make my move from around the backside of the ridge I was on, then work my way towards the ridge above the buck. About 25 minutes later I found myself on the ridge somewhere above the buck, but before my descent I said a quick prayer for help. I knew that as steep and dry as it was that I would need the Good Lord's help if I was gonna succeed.
I made it down a very steep mountainside, across two slides to within 100 yards of where I thought the buck should still be bedded, and without a single rock rolling down or without breaking a twig. My prayers had already been answered!
I setup where I had a good shooting lane to the right and left, then waited. With a little more help the buck spooked from his bed, but to my surprise he didn't go left or right, he came right up the chute directly at me! I couldn't believe it, seeing this beautiful buck climbing this steep chute right towards me. Luckily, I had my Leupold turned down to 4 power and when he was at 30 yards, I told myself, "aim low". As the gun went off I caught a quick look at him as he went over backwards. As he went out of sight, I could hear him tumbling all the way to the rocks at the bottom of the chute.

Rick's Trophy Buck
Rick's trophy buck.
It was quite a tumbled the buck took, but I was relieved to find that he was still in one piece. As I looked at the terrain and what had just transpired I realized that the chute I had positioned myself in was his main escape route. "I wonder how many hunters he eluded using that route?"
I was just lucky to have positioned myself in the right spot at the right time, but like I said, I had some help from above.

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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